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Nursery Nurses across Scotland are on all-out strike from 1 March 2004 because Scotland's councils have refused to address the problems of low pay in this vital job.

Nursery Nurses are paid on a Scottish grade that runs from around £10,000 for a newly qualified nursery nurse up to £13,800 after 10 years experience. (Promoted staff earn more as do those working 52 weeks) UNISON's claim for nursery nurses would take this grade to £14,000 - £18,000 with merit for nursery nurses working longer hours and weeks. We also want a career structure for promoted staff.

In the last 16 years, due to Scottish Executive policies on curriculum development and the social inclusion agenda, huge changes have been made to the job of the nursery nurse.

Scottish funding initiatives such as Sure Start, the Child Care Strategy and education funding for three and four year olds to help children have the best start in life, have added numbers and responsibilities. Bur none of this money goes to pay the salaries of the nursery nurses delivering these developments.

COSLA (the employers) have continuously shifted the goalposts in response to UNISON's three year old claim. They first argued that it had to be settled locally then told councils it should be negotiated nationally. They now refuse to negotiate at a Scottish level again.

COSLA say we should deal locally with councils, but:

1. The agreement they refer to is not yet in place to allow councils to deal with this fairly. They cannot deliver.

2. The added duties that we want the claim to address are the same across the country

3. Nursery nurses don't want a free-for-all with different councils paying different wages for the same job.

4. Councils are only offering the deal that nursery nurses rejected six months ago.

Nursery nurses never wanted to take this all-out action. We have tried a variety of boycotts, and two-day strikes, demonstrations, lobbies and petitions over the last year to try and show COSLA how determined and concerned nursery nurses are. It hasn't moved them.

Now nursery nurses have voted by four to one for an all-out strike in an attempt to show how frustrated nursery nurses are.

Throughout the strike parents have given us massive support. We recognise that this strike is disrupting the education of all children and disrupting the lives of parents. We have no alternative. We have tried them all to no avail.

COSLA may attack nursery nurses for striking. The answer lies where it always has - with them. We call on them to address the claim seriously - discuss and pay a fair wage to nursery nurses across Scotland. Please - continue to support your nursery nurses - increase the pressure in your councils - ask them

"please get your council to tell COSLA to re-open Scottish negotiations.